Son and father answer questions of a social worker

When teaches are asked about their biggest communication challenges, parent communication often heads the list. Having positive, productive relationships with your students’ parents can become easier when you follow the tips below.

Get off to the right start

Make sure you communicate individually with parents during the first few weeks of school. Introduce yourself and ask questions about the parents’ goals for his or her child. Remember to collect a contact number where the parent(s) can be reached easily and provide your contact information. Emails are also very useful in keeping in touch with parents and can be very good when you need to attach evidence of a child’s performance, so ask parents if you can communicate with them via email.

Communicate regularly

Sending home an electronic or paper newsletter on the same day each week helps parents expect and look for communication from you. Ensure that your newsletters contain suggestions of work which parents can do at home with their children.

Make positive outreach a priority

Email or send home notes about students, praising good things the child has done, so if a correctional email is needed, you have already established a good line of communication with the parents/guardians.

Respond promptly

The quicker you get back to parents, the better. Help parents know that they are valued members of the educational system by responding quickly and professionally to their concerns.If you do not have an answer to their question, respond to let them know that you are working on the situation and will let them know as soon as you have a solution.

Show respect

Use your most professional language and always proofread emails before sending. You represent your school, so be sure to put your best foot forward.

Take your time

If an incident occurs at school that requires your communication to a parent, give yourself time to completely describe the incident and be as objective as possible.

Confidentiality

Never discuss parent communication with anyone except your supervisor. Just another part of being professional.

Document, document, document

Emails are the preferred means of communication, since there is a paper trail, proving that you have been in contact with parents, but if phone calls are used, be sure to keep a log with details of when each call was made and what was discussed.

Conference

Many parents respond better face-to- face. If there is an ongoing issue, such as poor behaviour in class, scheduling a conference may help you to emphasise the importance of the parents’ role in changing the behaviour.

Be confident

Parents and teachers have the same goal: to give the very best to their student. Outlining your expectations and following up to ensure that they are enforced, is the best way to show parents that you are serious about their child’s well-being, as well as, their education.

Joining forces with parents is not challenging, as one may perceive. Keep in mind that you share common goals and expectations. Keep a confident and professional demeanour, and encourage parents to partner with you and the school in order to make their child’s learning experience as positive and productive as possible.

By Betina Fuentes

For more on Betina’s work with her students in the UAE, please check out her blog by clicking here.

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